Could it be an accident of location?
Late-night West Coast games are referred to as occurring the “Fourth Window” — after 10 p.m. ET. As much ribbing as the Pac-12 has received for those games (#Pac12AfterDark), there is no way around them. They are valuable programming that fills late-night TV slots with guaranteed ratings.
That’s why the late window is key for the Pac-12. It may be why ESPN could remain engaged with the conference beyond Thursday’s reported expiration of an exclusive 30-day negotiating window. Without the Pac-12, ESPN may not have late-night football. Fox is already set there with its Mountain West contract.
One industry course speculated: If ESPN doesn’t get a piece of the Big Ten, does it go all-in with whatever is left of the Pac-12?
“An alternative to the Mountain West” is a helluva sales pitch, fellas.